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Court Strikes Down 'Born in Jerusalem' Passport Law

06-08-2015
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JERUSALEM, Israel -- The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law that would have allowed Americans born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their country of birth on their passports.

In a 6-3 ruling Monday, the court said Congress overstepped its bounds when it approved the passport law in 2002 that sought to correct the State Department's refusal to associate Jerusalem with Israel.

The ruling ends a 12-year lawsuit on behalf of Menachem Zivotofsky and his parents, ending the hope that his passport would reflect Israel as the country of his birth before he reached his Bar Mitzvah at age 13.

Had Menachem been born in Tel Aviv, Haifa or any other Israeli city or town, his passport would show Israel as his country of birth.

But he was born in Jerusalem's Shaare Tzedek Hospital and that's a big problem for the State Department.

In a 2011 interview with Arutz Sheva, Zivotofsky family attorney Alyza Lewin said Congress passed the legislation to correct the State Department's inequity.

Though the bill passed by an "overwhelmingly bipartisan vote," the court claimed it infringed on the exclusive right of the executive branch to make this decision. Former President George W. Bill signed the legislation into law, but with a disclaimer.

"In his signing statement, he was going to view this legislation only in an advisory, not mandatory, capacity because in his view the bill infringed on an exclusive right for the executive branch to make this decision," Lewin explained.

The U.S. State Department says designating Jerusalem as Israel's capital would prejudice a future settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which claims Jerusalem as the capital of its future state.

Only for Jerusalem, the State Department goes against its own policy of listing the country, not the city, on passports.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said President Barack Obama should recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state, especially with the meteoric rise of anti-Semitism worldwide.

"Just as Washington is the capital of the United States, London the capital of England and Paris the capital of France so Jerusalem was and always will be the capital of Israel and the heart and soul of the Jewish people," Barkat said.

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